Adjusting to a New School

With the average Canadian moving thirteen times or more in a lifetime, odds are that one (or more) of those moves will occur during the formative years of childhood. From preschool to elementary to high school, relocating to a new school can be both exciting and daunting. Here are some tips on managing the move:

- Begin the conversation with your children regarding the move. Let them research new schools with you and discuss interests with your older children. The more you work together to determine which new school your kids will call home, the greater the likelihood is that adjustments to a new community will not be as difficult.

- Registernew-school well in advance, if possible. Some schools have lottery systems and others require registration to start during the previous school year. Once you know you are relocating and you have determined the new schools for your children, contact the school right away to begin the registration process.

- Visit the school prior to the first day. Meet the teachers and staff, tour the grounds, and ask as many questions as possible about transportation, school hours, lunch, and more. The more information you can relay to your child about how a typical day will go, the more comfortable they will be with the changes. Let your child visit the playground after school hours or on weekends. For younger children, practice the morning commute or visit the bus stop so that they become familiar with their new surroundings.

- Stock up on your supplies and your sleep. If you are moving during the middle of the school year, allow your children a few days to settle into their new home before starting a new school. They will need to adjust to a new bedroom, new routines, and possibly even a new time zone. Allowing them to rest up before their first day will keep them from being overwhelmed. In addition, it will allow your family time to unpack and stock up on necessary school supplies.

- Spend time talking to your child and listening to their concerns as they adjust to new friends new and teachers. They can be experiencing a range of emotions, from scared to anxious to excited. Encourage new friendships and outings and consider after school activities that will get your child, and you, involved in the local community.

- Become involved in the school as much as possible. This will give you the opportunity to learn more about the school and meet other families at the same time. Volunteering in your younger child’s classroom will allow you to have conversations at night about your child’s classmates and classroom procedures. Introduce yourself to everyone you meet, in your school and in your neighborhood, to become acquainted with your new neighbors, both in and out of school.